I often ask myself, “is it coincidence, or destiny, that I am descendants of Zakim/Zakheim?”
I, a Tai Chi/Chi Kung practitioner from Jerusalem, Israel, was one of the first ones to be around when Dana-Farber was beginning to first consider complimentary approaches. And then, two years later, I had the opportunity to introduce mind-body approaches in a very limited way to their patients. Two years after that, I had the privilege of being around for the historical moment when Lenny took over and led the creation of the Zakim center. Before Lenny joined, we tried for a few years but it wasn’t enough; I had class only once a week, which moved from room to room. We had many meeting and lots of discussion, but it looked like it was going nowhere.
But within a few years of Lenny taking the lead, he was able to bring about such amazing progress compared to what was done before. No wonder he was what people call “a mover and shaker!”
Of course, he had help from other individuals such as:
Close friends of Joyce and Lenny such as Carol and Dennis Kanin, the Schwartz, and Laura Molta (who does the great video, for free, every year!).
The center has also had help from special, powerful individuals who wanted to help in appreciation of the results they received from mind-body intervention while going through Cancer. Individuals such as Larry Lucchino and others.
(P.S. Sorry if I missed or did not mention other individuals who helped and are a big part of helping lead the Zakim center to where it is today!)
One of the special individuals that keeps leading and promoting the center (and Lenny’s legacy) is Joyce Zakim, Lenny’s wife, who I have known since the day I met Lenny. Joyce is one of the kindest and nicest individuals I have ever met. Always wearing a smile, always positive and cheerful and down to earth. Her constant time and energy, and that of a group of supporters and friends to her and Lenny, are one of the main reasons for the recognition and success of the Zakim center today.
THE MEDICAL DIRECTORS OF THE ZAKIM CENTER
Over the years, there were three individuals/directors whose leadership and direction allowed the Zakim Center to make huge steps forward in operations and recognition. Their personal time, passion, positive thinking, wisdom, and amazing personalities are what led the Zakim Center to where it is today.
DR. PAUL RICHARDSON
The first Zakim director, an unbelievably charismatic individual, is Dr. Paul Richardson. Dr. Richardson put a strong emphasis on research and achieving recognition through scientific research. While Dr. Richardson was the director, we were able to conduct a small visibility study.
In addition to that study, we wrote a paper: “QUALITATIVE STUDY OF CANCER PATIENTS' EXPERIENCES WITH AND REASONS FOR INTENSIVELY PURSUING QIGONG, A CHINESE MEDITATIVE EXERCISE THERAPY,” as well as a Pilot Study of “12 weeks of Qigong as Gentle Mind-body Exercise for Metastatic Breast Cancer.” And finally, we presented a poster at a cancer research conference with the title "Pilot Study in Metastatic Breast Cancer of Diurnal Cortisol Variability, Mood and Muscle Strength Associated with a 12-week Program of Qigong as Mind-Body Exercise.”
Dr. Paul Richardson was offered the position of principle investigator (PI) in a treatment study for Multiple Myeloma, a treatment which then tremendously improved the rate off success with Multiple Myeloma. In the video, Dr. Richardson summarizes novel agents and combinations used for treating multiple myeloma. Key strategies include targeting protein degradation, restoring immune function, and combination therapy.
If Lenny had survived a few more years, perhaps this treatment could have prolonged his life for another 10 years, or maybe even put his cancer into remission; such is the world of Cancer. See Lenny's Story: Cancer and the Quality of Life.
DR. DAVID ROSENTHAL
The second Zakim Center director was Dr. David Rosenthal. Dr. Rosenthal is a great man, whose patience and huge heart will just melt you as you are working with him. He is smart, humble, down to earth and a loving individual to patients, colleagues, and his lovely and kind wife, Judy. Dr. Rosenthal was a great leader and promoter for the Zakim Center and his well established and recognized leadership in the traditional medical world brought the Zakim Center great acknowledgment and recognition.
Both Dr. Rosenthal and his wife, Judy Rosenthal, were instrumental in bringing the “Hope Lodge” to Boston. I met so many individuals and families that saved so much money by staying at the Hope Lodge, which also and allowed them to better receive their treatments in the Boston area.
DR. JENNIFER LIGIBEL
The third and current medical director, and a very important individual to the Zakim Center, is Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, who started in 2014 and is our present Zakim Center director as well as a breast cancer oncologist. Dr. Ligibel is one of the smartest people I have ever met (along with my mother Professor Zichria Zakay/Rones and her research with Cancer, and my father in-law Dr. Irwin Harold Rosenberg, also known as Isaac.) Dr. Ligibel is such a kind, thoughtful, and funny individual, and her dedication and passion is another large reason for the success and recognition of our center. I am proud and honored to work under her at the Zakim Center. Her research is impressive, to say the least, and she is one of the leading scientist and expert in both exercise and diet benefits to Cancer patients and survivors.
After the event, Dr. Ligibel sent a beautiful and touching email to the Zakim Center staff that I would like to share it with you:
Dr. Ligibel’s right hand assistant, Victoria Kennedy, is another great person contributing to the Zakim Center. And I can’t forget Meghan Mcloughlin! Another great and kind individual she is our program coordinator.
THE INDIVIDUALS THAT WERE HONORED THIS YEAR
Cynthia Medeiros has also been at Dana-Farber since before the Zakim Center was created, as well as during the creation. Cynthia is actually one of the pioneers and main reason for the creation of the center. She was, and still is, a friend of the Zakim family. She rides the PMC, the Pan-Mass Challenge, every year on team Lenny to support the Zakim Center and Lenny’s dream.
Dr. David Rosenthal, who I wrote about above, served as the previous Zakim medical director.
Acupuncturist Zhi ping Li, who has been at the Zakim Center since 2002.
Acupuncturist Weidong Lu, who has been with the Zakim Center since its opening in 2000. Dr. Weidong Lu has been involved in very interesting research about acupuncture and cancer.
Here are some of his research publications:
- Acupuncture for Chemotherapy-Induced Neutropenia in Patients with Gynecologic Malignancies: A Pilot Randomized, Sham-Controlled Clinical Trial.
- Recent Advances in Oncology Acupuncture and Safety Considerations in Practice.
- Acupuncture for Chemotherapy-Induced Leukopenia: Exploratory Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.
- The Value of Acupuncture in Cancer Care.
Massage therapist Theresa Ochenkoski.
And last; Tai Chi, Chi Kung and meditation teacher Ramel Rones (Rami).
Here are some of Ramel Rones’ publications:
- BMJ; British Medical Journal; March 21 2018: "Effect of tai chi versus aerobic exercise for fibromyalgia: comparative effectiveness randomized controlled trial."
- NEJM; The New England Journal of Medicine; August 19 2010: “A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia.”.
- NCBI; National Center for Biotechnology Information ; November 2009: "Tai Chi is Effective in Treating Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial."
- The Journal of the British Society for Rheumatology; May 2005: "Effect of Tai Chi in adults with rheumatoid arthritis.”
- Ramel Rones & Jeff Sirlin startup; free for Cancer patients, family members and Cancer caregivers: http://www.cwellness.com.
- Ramel Rones books and DVDS, such as Sunrise Tai Chi, Sunset Tai Chi, and Tai Chi Energy Patterns.
- Ramel Rones Tai Chi Student Testimonials.
- Larry Lucchino testimonial from former President & CEO of the Boston Red Sox, and current owner of the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Ramel Rones e mail to the Zakim staff:
THE GIFT/AWARD EACH ONE OF THE HONOREES RECEIVED
Some words from the Zakim family:
And as usual, happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!